The Performance Flange
What is a performance flange? It is a part of each of our kayaks and it was installed to solve one problem, but ended up solving so many more.
Traditionally, the way kayaks are joined together leaves a lot to be desired. In the traditional seaming of a kayak, one tapes (or temporarily glues) together two halves of the kayak (the deck and the hull). Then one would laminate inside and outside along the seam, using fiberglass tape. The problem is that the nose and tail are usually too far away to do by hand, so it’s done with a stick or an end pour. Often with this technique, one must assume the internal seal without being able to see it.
Instead, we bond the deck and the hull on our kayaks externally. That external bond turns what may traditionally be the weakest part of a kayak into one of the strongest while adding some unintended benefits along the way.
Our deck and hull each have a flange, which allows us to bond the two pieces together using a methyl methacrylate adhesive at the flange. With this technique, we can clearly see that the whole kayak is bonded. To better visualize this, picture the planet Saturn. Now, imagine that the top and bottom are two different, hollow pieces. Imagine the top and the bottom both have rings (or perhaps a flange). Now you want to put it back together again; the best way to be sure you’re gluing it together well is to glue the rings to each other, all the way around.
I get it, er… What’s the Rubber Strip for?
Hopefully, now you understand how we assemble the kayaks. After the adhesive cures, we cut the excess fiberglass off the kayak. This leaves a sharp, fiberglass edge. We sand it so it’s no longer capable of felling trees, but it’s not too pretty… and it’s still fairly sharp. So we install a half-inch-wide rub strip to protect you from the fiberglass edge.
But Wait, There’s More!
The original reason we installed the rub strip was to protect you from the kayak. However, we quickly discovered that the rub strip also protects the kayak. While maneuvering around pilings in choppy conditions a few years ago, I bumped a piling. Instead of hearing the scrape of barnacles on fiberglass, I heard a dull, echo-y thud. The rub strip acted as a bumper and kept the fiberglass from being scratched or chipped.
I Reached out to Grab a Perimeter Line…
Unexpectedly, I found another benefit one day while I was practicing wet entries. I had pulled myself onto the back deck and reached out to grab a perimeter line, but accidentally grabbed the flange instead. At that moment, I realized the rub strip is like having a handle on all sides of your kayak. Wet entries – both performing your own and assisting others – is astoundingly easier with the rub strip on the flange. It also makes controlling the kayak much easier when you are floating in the water next to it.
The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Since our kayaks have an upswept bow, the flange has a gradual curve upwards as it approaches the bow. This makes the flange act like a planer when it punches into head waves. Also, since the flange goes around the entire kayak, it deflects water away from the deck, and therefore away from the cockpit. It’s not that I’ve never had a wave come over my deck, it’s just that little wavelets are less likely to get to me. I was surprised how much I enjoyed not being constantly splashed while paddling.
In conclusion – we solved the issue we set out to solve: the bond on our kayaks is extremely strong and we are confident that we got it solid, all the way around, on every kayak we make. And we have discovered many additional benefits to our construction technique over the years. If you’re in the greater Tacoma area, we’d love to schedule a demo, so you can try it for yourself.